William Gallas : "OM will qualify in pain"

03 may 2018
Photos © 
An Olympian from 1997 to 2001, William Gallas lived through the European epic of 1999. He returns to us to speak about his experience and his disappointment at not playing the final. The central defender also gives us his thoughts on the return match between OM and Salzburg.

William, 19 years ago you played in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup with OM against Bologna. What memories do you remember ?
I remember two very close encounters. On the pitch and off the pitch. In the first leg, we only got a draw (0-0). In the return leg, the Italians scored after less than twenty minutes of play. We had suffered a lot. And at the end of the game, we got a penalty. Laurent Blanc was in charge of scoring it. He had to go twice. But in the end, he found the net and we qualified.

The return match had been electric …
Yes, there was a lot at stake and tension around the game. It had been very "hot" on the field as well as outside the stadium. There were clashes at the end of the match with our opponents and the police.

You could not play the final because you were suspended. What do you remember about the game against Parma?
OM were without several key players such as Peter Luccin, Christophe Dugarry, Fabrizio Ravanelli and myself. Would the outcome of the match have been different with a full-strength OM? I do not know. But the course of the match would probably have been different.

You still made an impact in the club's history by qualifying for the final....
To make an impact in the club's history, you have to be the winner of the competition. In any case, that's my view of things. The history of OM was marked by the year 1993 because there was the victory against AC Milan. When one is a competitor one retains only the successes. Let's say we almost did so. But this defeat and the second place in Ligue 1 behind Bordeaux left us with regrets and disappointment.


Do you remember the craze at the time? Was it similar to what we saw in the past week in Marseille?
Yes, we felt the support of the people of Marseille. We even felt that the whole country was behind us. The public had moved en masse to be behind us. This is the kind of meeting where the adrenaline rises very high. We all dream of playing these type of games. It's great to live this! These encounters are played with mental strength. The preparation of coach Garcia will be important.

For what reason?
Since he's been in Marseille, we see that Rudi Garcia is a real leader of men. He makes important and bold choices. It works ! All his choices are calculated. He leaves nothing to chance. The start of the OM season was a bit more complicated. But he quickly brought solutions. We feel that his speech goes well with his players. It is not based only on his starting lineup. He manages to create a real cohesion around the group.


Which players impressed you the most in this UEFA Europa League run?
Florian Thauvin has had an exceptional season. He has really taken a step. Dimitri Payet too. He has been very well managed by his coach. We feel that Garcia has given confidence to Kostas Mitroglou who is coming back to his level. Bouna Sarr has also done well. He plays intelligently.

What thoughts do you have on the first leg against Salzburg?
They did the job with this 2-0 win. They did not concede a goal and we know how important that is in the European Cup. The score is positive, but we must be wary of this Salzburg team. In the quarterfinals, the Austrians lost to Lazio 2-4 before taking their revenge at the return leg (4-1). Therefore, we need to be vigilant.

Are you confident?
Yes, but it must be said that OM are only at the halfway stage of the tie. The group will have to deal with the pressure and nervousness that are apparent in these matches.

What is your prediction for this return leg?
OM will qualify but in pain. I think Salzburg will win the match 2-1, but Marseille will be in the final.